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The Drive to Defend the Title



Video Clips Kickout Clip Snapdown Clip Last year Kerry Boumans won a National Championship in Las Vegas. His dream of wrestling in the Olympics was tantalizingly close. As the National Champion, Boumans had the privilege of forgoing the mini-tournament and seeing who would challenge him for the championship in the Olympic Trials. Boumans probably wasn't surprised when the competitor that advanced to the wrestle-off was Terry Brands. Brands' competitive career was seemingly over. However, late in the spring following U.S. Nationals in Vegas, Brands began to train again and petitioned into the Olympic Trials. There was a buzz in the stands as Brands tore through his competitors with a 10-0 opening victory, an 8-0 semifinals win, and a 6-1 victory in the finals over Eric Guerrero who competed for Oklahoma State. Brands was on a tear, and most people in the crowd didn't think anyone could hang with him. It's rare to find a National Champion who is the underdog but in Boumans case the fans in Dallas gave him little chance against Brands. As far as National Champions go Boumans is an overlooked but fierce competitor. In what turned out to be two of the most exciting bouts of the tournament Kerry Boumans, the champion and underdog, wrestled two hard fought battles against Brands. The pace of the matches was quick and furious but Brands won out--winning the first match 3-2 in overtime and the second 5-2 also in overtime. The last takedown Brands scored was after a dizzying array of shots and counters. When Brands stood with his hand raised in victory, the fans of wrestling in Dallas had a new found respect for Kerry Boumans. The applause was as much for him as it was for Brands. Applause for two outstanding wrestlers, wrestlers fighting for the chance to represent the U.S.A on the world level. Boumans looks back on his narrow losses with renewed confidence for the challenges he will face this year as the international season is set to begin. "The Trials were a definite confidence booster. I know that I can win when I put my focus into it. I'm just telling myself that I can win at any cost." With the 2001 U.S. Nationals set for the second week in April, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Boumans is readying himself for a run at another dream. "Mentally I'm ready; being the champion last year I feel a little added pressure to defend the title." This year Boumans hopes to come out on top at the World Trials in Cincinnati in late June, so that he can represent America at 58 kg (127.5 pounds) weight class for the World Championships. The number one competitor will get to wrestle on American soil in Madison Square Gardens-a dream that few wrestlers will want to miss out on. When Boumans lost in Dallas, he didn't give up on the sport. He continued to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The hardest thing about the sport of wrestling according to Boumans, "Keeping the focus on your goals when the rewards don't come so easy. It is easy to quit when it doesn't go your way." Years ago, Boumans by his own omission was a freshman football player in high school. "I was all of 4 foot 11 and about 85 pounds, and believe it or not I was football player that wasn't getting a chance to get in the game." Boumans defensive football coach, Don Gagnard convinced him to come out for wrestling. Surely, Coach Gagnard looks back on his undersized wrestling recruit with a lot of pride. Boumans went on to be a three time state champion for Comeaux High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. Boumans still holds the consecutive win mark in the state at 101. However, success for Boumans at a national level hasn't come overnight. In Junior Nationals, in Fargo North Dakota, Boumans simply will say, "I didn't do so well." Boumans, a late starter in the sport of wrestling, went on to be a National Champion for the University of Mary, a NAIA school in North Dakota. Now Kerry Boumans is a year removed from his Olympic dream and the narrow losses he suffered when facing Terry Brands. Boumans life has changed over the last year. He's married now with a new son named Jacob. And with new responsibilities have come a new perspective on the sport of wrestling, "Wrestling is a providing tool and something that I love to do. It was starting to become a job and my new family has made me see that it is a lot more than that." It is clear that Boumans is ready for the challenge of the two big tournaments that will determine the U.S. World Team. He's not ready to step away from it now, although there must be days when the training becomes a grind. "I think that now I am at the point where wrestling has given me so much that I would be cheating the sport and myself to give up now. Even though it is tough at times to realize that there is an easier way to make a better living, I feel that I still have something to give. I am following a dream and I don't think that God is ready for me to give it up just yet."
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